I recently listened to a podcast about Jessica Alba’s book “The Honest Life” in which she discusses reducing the use of chemicals in beauty products. When the podcast ended, I went to my bathroom and investigated a few of my products. I have always been aware that shampoo and conditioner had a lot of chemicals in them but it never occurred to me that there was an alternative way to clean your hair. I just assumed that we used these products because they were necessary.
Most of the ingredients in shampoo are oil dissolving products, alcohols and chemicals designed to remove the natural oils our scalps make. Removing these oils seems like a good idea but this leads to dryness, so we then use a moisturizing conditioner to replace those oils in attempts to leave our hair feeling soft. Constant removing of our natural oils leads to our bodies over-producing these oils in an attempt to maintain our scalps balance, so we become oil producing machines who need to wash our hair more frequently.
My current shampoo contains 69 different ingredients, only a few of which I can pronounce. I have a very oily scalp so I have to wash my hair everyday, and follow it with a conditioning product. This means that every day I put over 70 different chemicals on my scalp and hair. This is of course before any styling products are applied. If there was one thing I could do to decrease the chemicals I put on my body, eliminating standard shampoo and conditioner would be a great start.
I did some research and “No Poo”, the process of not using a standard shampoo and conditioner, gets mixed reviews. Many women who follow the No Poo method use baking soda, essential oils, and apple cider vinegar to wash and condition their hair. This works for some but not for others so many go from No Poo to “Low Poo” where they use natural shampoo bars. These bars are typically made out of essential oils and are the next best thing to No Poo as you are still eliminating the chemicals and allowing your body to balance out it’s oil production by not stripping the natural oils away every day.
Ten days ago I made the decision to give “No Poo” a try. I was about to leave for the beach and decided this was a good time to pursue this experiment. I love being as natural as I can be when I vacation at the beach. Typically I don’t take any makeup and I wear a hat most of the time, so having unwashed hair isn’t really an issue as long as it doesn’t smell.
After ten days of not shampooing my hair it feels as if someone gave me a hot oil treatment EVERY SINGLE DAY for the past ten days, but only on the top of my head. My natural oils haven’t made it to the ends yet so they are still dry and frizzy. Needless to say I’m wearing a ponytail daily. When I shower I wash my hair with water. This involves letting hot water run through my hair as I take my fingers and massage my scalp and attempt to move some of the natural oils down my hair to the ends. I have used tea tree essential oil twice in ten days to keep my hair smelling clean and have followed that with an apple cider vinegar rinse.
I purchased a natural boar bristle hair brush to use as the natural bristles are known to help move the oils down the hair shaft. My hair is not tangled which is a surprise to me. I expected not using conditioner would lead to my hair being a knotted mess but the apple cider vinegar rinses are keeping it detangled. I have also used a talc powder on my hair twice to help make my hair look less oily for work. This works really well but is not something I recommend doing daily as it builds up in your hair and looks flaky.
No Poo feels really gross right now and is making my hair look like poo. Add to it that I haven’t colored my hair in over three months and I look like a hot mess. I have a line where my natural color is coming in along with a plethora of gray hairs. I bought a shampoo bar because I am starting to feel the urge to cave on this experiment. As a working professional I do need to present myself in the work environment in a way that my employer expects of me. Walking in looking as if I put lard on my hair would be frowned upon.
I’ve read that it takes three weeks to one month to assimilate to No Poo and I’m not sure that I have that in me. I’m hoping to switch to the shampoo bar I purchased and to only use it once to twice weekly. My shampoo bar contains nine ingredients, three of which are essential oils and all of which I can pronounce, and is a vast improvement in reducing the number of chemicals I’m using in my beauty products. I am also removing my conditioner, which contains 21 ingredients, as a weekly apple cider vinegar rinse is the bomb! So this one experiment has led to a reduction of 90 chemicals from my beauty routine. I fully expect after a few more weeks of assimilation my hair’s texture and health will be much improved.
If you’re looking to reduce your own chemical usage I would highly recommend this as a good place to start.